On Wednesday, Dave Roberts sat at the podium and talked about his team’s upcoming NLCS matchup with the Milwaukee Brewers.
With a new series, a new roster is likely to be expected. Whether it be one change or zero changes, Roberts has said that the roster might be different than the NLDS roster. Unfortunately, there’s no answer yet in regards to if any players will be added.
“There’s possibly a couple changes we’re still talking through,” Roberts said. “Haven’t made that final decision, but there’s possibly a couple changes.”
The full 25-man roster won’t be released until Friday morning, just hours before Game 1.
Getting set to face Milwaukee, who finished with the best record in the National League, Roberts discussed what the x-factors would be in the series.
“You got to pitch, play defense, hit, not let your emotions or let the moment get too big for you,” he said. “Not letting emotions get to each individual. Two teams playing good baseball up to this point. They have home field advantage, but we’ve actually played better on the road than at home. With our group, that doesn’t bother us.”
On the season, the Dodgers won two more games on the road than at home. LA’s 47 road wins were tied for the most in the NL.
With Clayton Kershaw having been announced as the Game 1 starter, it appears the Dodgers are still deciding on who they are going to throw in game two, as well as game three.
One of the players who will be a candidate to get the nod will be Hyun-Jin Ryu. On the season, Ryu faired a lot better pitching at Dodger Stadium. At Chavez Ravine, the left-hander was 5-2 with a 1.15 ERA, compared to 2-1 with a 3.58 ERA on the road.
Roberts said he’s not going to take his success at home into account of which game Ryu starts.
“We understand that he has pitched better at home this year than on the road,” Roberts said. “He’s a veteran pitcher that regardless of where we decide he pitches, we expect him to throw the baseball well. We’re confident that whenever he pitches he’s going to pitch well.”
With the length of the series switching from five to seven games, a lot more pressure is tacked on to the pitching staff.
“The starting pitching comes into play more,” Roberts said. “Last year we put so much on our pen in two seven game series’. Last year I thought that was a strength. This year, the way our starters are throwing, you have to appreciate how they’re throwing the baseball. If you can get some more out of your starters, that’s all the better, especially in a seven game series.”
With a 3.19 ERA, the Dodgers’ starting rotation had the lowest ERA in the national league, and the second in all of baseball, just trailing the Astros at 3.16. As well as dominating in ERA, LA’s starters had the second most strikeouts in the NL.
With LA’s strength coming from their starting rotation, Milwaukee’s strength stems from their bullpen, which was among one of the best in the NL. On the season, the Brewers’ bullpen was top two in the NL in ERA (3.47), saves (49), innings pitched (614), strikeouts (708), and opponents batting average (.230). Their bullpen averages 10.38 strikeouts per nine innings, which led the national league.
Roberts though, isn’t worried.
“When you’re talking about a seven game series and five games in six days, having those guys go to their bullpen and beating the starter, there’s a lot of value in that,” Roberts said. “They have some good arms and arguably one of the best pens in baseball, and they’ve performed as such. Our goal, whoever takes the mound, whether it be for a hitter, or an inning or whatever it might be, our goal is to beat that starter.”
For Roberts, this will be the third consecutive season he has led his team to the championship series, with a chance to reach the World Series in back-to-back years.
“We want to finish off what we didn’t finish off last year,” he said. “That’s been our focus since after game seven. We’re in a position where we can give ourselves an opportunity to get back there. You do that by playing good baseball. We do a very good job of not getting too far ahead of ourselves, but understanding the ultimate goal.”
“Obviously, in some people’s eyes, winning a championship is the only thing that is a sign of success. Every year there are 29 teams that fail. This market, this team, what we’ve accomplished in three years I can speak to, our goal is to win a championship, and we haven’t done that yet. I can be firm when I say if we don’t win a championship, then we didn’t accomplish our goal. There’s a lot of good things that have happened up to this point. I expect us to give ourselves that chance again. It comes with playing good baseball. Our guys really understand how important it is to this fan base, to the players themselves, to bring a championship back to Los Angeles.”